When Brenna Uline of Stillwater, suffered the loss of her stillborn son in September 2010, not only did she face the obvious heartbreak, but she was forced to make some really tough decisions.
“I had no idea that he had passed away,” said Uline. “I heard his heartbeat on that Monday, and Saturday went into labor.”
While she was still in a state of shock and not thinking clearly, the hospital staff rushed Uline and her fiance into making difficult choices about funeral arrangements.
Uline, now 28, said nothing can prepare you for that moment.
“I called the funeral home, and they turned us away because we didn’t have the best insurance at the time, so we had him cremated,” Uline said.
Not long after, Uline found herself looking for a support group and stumbled upon TEARS, an organization founded in 2002 by Sarah Slack, a mother of a stillborn child.
The TEARS foundation works to help families who have lost a baby by providing funds to assist with the cost of burial or cremation services and providing bereavement care in the form of support groups and peer companions.
For more information, visit TEARS site at www.thetearsfoundation.org. To contact Brenna Uline about upcoming local events or to find out how you can help, call 512-1940 or e-mail [email protected]
“They didn’t have a chapter in New York State yet, and I thought it would be better for me to do something productive,” Uline said. “This way I can tell people about Konrad, and I get to say his name all the time.”
Uline said she doesn’t want other people to find themselves in the same situation she was in when she lost her son, and starting a New York State chapter of TEARS was the first step in helping.
“I don’t want people to regret the decisions they have to make because they made them based on finances and not so much on what they would have preferred to do,” Uline said.
In addition to support groups and financial help, Uline said New York families who have lost an infant at 20 weeks gestation up to one year old and have not been able to purchase a marker for their child are provided with grave markers through a program called Jesse’s Grant Marker Program, named after the founder’s son, Jesse.
“Once a year, they accept applications for people that have lost an infant in the past but were unable to get a grave marker,” she said.
Uline is hoping to get the word out about the foundation, not only to raise funds but so that more people are aware that help is available to them.
“I think a lot of people don’t understand how painful the loss of a child to miscarriage, stillbirth or infant death is,” Uline said. “I feel like people don’t understand because they kind of adopt the attitude, ‘Well, you didn’t even really know them’. I had the same hopes and dreams for my son as other parents did.”
Uline said she tries to put together a fundraiser every couple of months to raise money for the TEARS foundation. In October, Uline held a wine tasting event at The Saratoga Winery and is planning a fundraiser at The Wonder Room in Ballston Lake in the coming months. In addition, she is planning a second Walk & Rock fundraiser in June of 2013.
Uline said at some point in the future she will consider having more children, but right now she will continue to honor her son by giving others the support they need.
Since the TEARS foundation was started in 2002, it has helped more than a thousand families with financial and emotional services. For more information, visit the TEARS foundation website at www.thetearsfoundation.org. To contact Uline about upcoming local events or to find out how you can help, call 512-1940 or e-mail [email protected]